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Science departments in African universities — once hailed as shining examples of progress on the continent — now suffer from a host of problems that make it almost impossible for them to function effectively.

But Mohamed H.A. Hassan argues that many of Africa’s most serious problems — including malnutrition, disease and environmental degradation — cannot be addressed without a critical mass of African scientists working on issues of direct concern to the continent itself.

Responsibility for reviving science in Africa, he says, lies largely with the continent’s governments, but also requires the support of national and international aid agencies and of scientists worldwide.

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